AirAsia X Reveals Plans To Rebuild International Network

Credit: Duy Phuong Nguyen / Alamy Stock Photo

AirAsia X (AAX) is preparing to take major steps in its network recovery, as it boosts its route total to seven and signals its intention to add more destinations including London later this year.

The latest announcements give the clearest indication yet of what the new iteration of AirAsia X will look like. The Malaysian medium- and long-haul LCC grounded all its operations early in the pandemic and then underwent a significant restructuring to stay in business.

AAX relaunched international flights in February with service from its Kuala Lumpur (KUL) base to Sydney, but it shelved this route again in April. It is currently operating routes to Seoul (ICN) and Delhi (DEL).

The carrier has now scheduled flights to resume to Tokyo Haneda (HND) on July 14, and Sydney (SYD) from Sept. 2. In October it will restart flights to Osaka (KIX), which will continue to Honolulu (HNL). Flights to Sapporo will resume in December.

AAX’s seven routes are scheduled with frequencies of 2-4 times per week. However, the carrier hopes to “return to pre-COVID capacity on some of our core routes within the next 12 months,” said AAX CEO Benyamin Ismail.

As well as these scheduled restarts, AAX said it intends to launch additional long-haul services at some point later this year. These will include flights to Istanbul (IST) and Dubai (DXB), and London (LHR) via Dubai.

While Dubai and Istanbul will be new destinations for AAX, the carrier served London several years ago. It used Airbus A340s at that time, but canceled the route in 2012. AirAsia X co-founder Tony Fernandes signaled many times in subsequent years that a return to London was a long-term goal.

Ismail has also confirmed that the carrier aims to restart flights to Australian destinations Melbourne (MEL) and Perth (PER) soon, as well as a route to Auckland (AKL) via Australia.

AAX is currently operating six Airbus A330s, and it intends to boost this fleet to 15 aircraft by the end of this year.

The carrier operated a fleet of about 25 A330s before the pandemic. It cut this fleet down to 11 aircraft during its restructuring, although most of these remain parked. The carrier has since announced plans to lease another four A330s to add to the 11.

Adrian Schofield

Adrian is a senior air transport editor for Aviation Week, based in New Zealand. He covers commercial aviation in the Asia-Pacific region.